Inslee accuses Trump of ‘fomenting domestic rebellion’
Jay Inslee, Washington state’s Democratic governor, sharply criticized President Trump on Friday for appearing to endorse those protesting coronavirus stay-at-home orders, accusing him of “fomenting domestic rebellion.”
Inslee issued a statement asserting that Trump both encouraged “illegal and dangerous acts” and put millions in danger of being infected with the novel coronavirus by issuing tweets earlier Friday that seemed to back the protests.
“The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted,” Inslee said.
Inslee, with whom Trump has traded barbs in the past, also insisted that Trump’s “irresponsible statements” undermined the work of members of his own coronavirus task force, including Vice President Pence, Deborah Birx and Adm. Brett Giroir.
“The president’s call to action today threatens to undermine his own goal of recovery by further delaying the ability of states to amend current interventions in a safe, evidence-based way,” Inslee said.
“His words are likely to cause COVID-19 infections to spike in places where social distancing is working — and if infections are increasing in those places, that will further postpone the 14 days of decline that his own guidance says is necessary before modifying any interventions,” he continued.
Earlier on Friday, Trump issued a series of tweets written in capital letters appearing to back demonstrators protesting against restrictions in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all states that are run by Democratic governors.
The messages came a day after the White House released guidelines for states to take a three-phase approach to gradually lift restrictions and reopen their economies, which Inslee described as “sensible” but in contradiction with the president’s latest rhetoric.
“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” the president tweeted Friday morning, writing quickly thereafter, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump then tweeted, referencing a law signed last week that expanded background checks and placed limits on gun purchases.
Protests against stay-at-home orders have popped up around the country this week, with throngs crowded the streets of Michigan’s capital on Wednesday to protest an order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).
A protest from a group calling itself “Liberate Minnesota” was expected to stage a demonstrate outside the home of Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Friday. A small protest was also reported in Richmond on Thursday to protest a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Ralph Northam (D).
Asked about the protests at a news conference Thursday evening, Trump expressed sympathy for those frustrated with restrictions, saying the public health crisis had been a “tough process for people” and that they wanted to get back to normal.
Asked if he believed protesters should listen to local authorities, Trump said he believed they were listening to him and respectful of his opinion, which he said was in line with that of most of the governors.
“They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut, but they want to open safely,” Trump said. “So, that will be a governor’s choice, and we’ll have no problem with it.”
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